Your Guilt Makes Forbidden Foods Taste Even Better

People made to feel guilty before indulging rated treat more highly: study
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 4, 2012 12:51 PM CST

(Newser) – If you've ever been on a diet and thought that forbidden piece of chocolate you sneaked tasted even better than usual ... turns out it really did taste even better than usual. A new study finds that guilt can make tasty foods seem even more pleasurable than they otherwise would, Time reports. The multi-part study found that when subjects were made to feel guilty or think about guilt before indulging in a chocolate treat, they ranked the treat as more enjoyable than subjects who were not made to feel guilty first.

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The same held true when food wasn't involved, again, so long as the pleasurable and guilt-inducing factors were at play: Those made to feel guilty before watching a "fun" video ranked it more highly than the guilt-free; but those made to feel guilty before viewing an instructional video rated that one the same as their guiltless counterparts. Researchers warn that this is bad news for people with unhealthy habits: Smokers and drinkers, for example, may enjoy their addictions even more when they're "forbidden," thus making them less likely to break the addiction. And companies may want to re-think marketing products as "guilt-free," since such a label could actually spur customers to enjoy the product less. (Read more guilty stories.)

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